Editorial: We Need to Dream Big to Grow Trade
At a recent conference in Jakarta that brought businesspeople from Latin American and Indonesia together, one thought was frequently expressed: both sides have to overcome their mental perception of the distance separating the two regions.
This is even more true in these uncertain global economic times. With Europe and the United States facing a prolonged economic downturn, Indonesia must look for new markets for its exports. As noted by Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East present huge opportunities for our exporters.
Indonesian exports, excluding oil and gas, totaled $18.1 billion in the first five months of the year to these so-called non-traditional markets. This was, however, down 2.9 percent from $18.7 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Exports to non-traditional markets account for 28 percent of the country’s non-oil and gas exports. “We should expand the total cake,” Gita said. “We should be confident that in the future we can send products that have value added.”
For this to happen, he added, the country must continue to attract top-grade investments. We must move up the production value chain and build products that require technology, knowledge and skills. Only then can we progress as a nation and lift living standards.
We must in essence have the courage to dream big and pursue those dreams. We must dream of one day creating a Silicon Valley in the heart of Kalimantan or Papua, instead of just extracting natural resources there.
If we get our policy framework right, we can realize this dream. Indonesia must sell itself as a land of opportunities.